I seem to be a creature of tallies and routines. I set my sights on something lurking on the calendar somewhere, and I make my way toward it. Sometimes my progress is lightning-quick and life hurtles in a kind of ruthless way down the path of my choosing. I run headlong into that square on the kitchen calendar, and before I know it, I’m in the moment, catching my breath, catching up just in time to experience that something. Other times, the progress is mightily slow, millimeter by grinding millimeter, creeping along, my progress almost imperceptible. The month of November has been a major month for tallies, and looking back I’m realizing that it has been, simply, all about goals.
That first thing I mentioned, that something on the calendar toward which life flung me at top speed, was this odd little adventure called NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The goal? Write a minimum of 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th. Why? You ask, why do that? It seems so random, so ridiculous, that a person should attempt to write a book in a month. Would it be any good?
I wrote a book once, remember? It’s around 50 pages. I don’t know how many words that is, but nothing nearing 50,000. Took me just about twenty-six years. Here it is: homeostasis press. Hmm. Well, I didn’t expect to finish a book in thirty days. But found out all I could about the odd little adventure and realized that though this challenge is, on its surface, about quantity, what meeting the challenge might do for me would be to give me the bones of a story I’ve been trying to start for many years. And the beautiful thing is that it was true. I wrote roughly 50,167 words, depending on who’s counting, and in the process I got to know some characters, to find for myself a beginning and a middle, and a pretty reasonable ending, too. So, I wrote the first draft of a novel. Hmm.
What about counting down? You ask. Remember last January, my earnest talk of running and setting goals? I signed onto the Tall Mom on the Run 1000+ miles in 2011 challenge. I figured that if I set a goal like that, I’d have to keep moving the entire year. And the beautiful thing about it is that it worked, too. As of today, I’ve got fewer than 60 miles left.
Life has intruded, as it must, because it’s life. It has complicated the reaching of these seemingly random goals, of counting up, and counting down. Injury has reared its ugly head, along with hours of energy spent at work, and on family. But these intrusions, these experiences, the usual enemies of personal goals, are also their impetus. They are part and parcel of what rockets me onward through the kitchen calendar and what propels me onward, millimeter by slow millimeter. The gift is that in each of these cases, I’ve been given much in the work I’ve done, of new beginnings, of new adventures, of power and the joy to wake another day, ready to stride toward it all again.